Small House Decorating – Dressing Room

I’m late posting, I know. I’m way behind on a lot of my reading and writing, I have no idea what to catch up with first. But I have an excuse, I’ve been very busy transforming my dressing room from an ugly kid’s room into a glamorous adult refuge.

I’m pretty damn good at decorating. I get it from my dad. Nobody seems to know this, but he has a fantastic sense of style in all things, and he’s awesome. We enjoy discussions about warm vs cool colors, refinishing old furniture, and how much we hate wallpaper borders. Even so I was a bit nervous about this, because I was going bold. But a small room that you’re the only real user of is a pretty good excuse to be experimental.

Before: I forgot to take any official before photos, so this is one of the dresser that I took for the purpose of telling Facebook it was up for grabs.

Before: I forgot to take any official before photos, so this is one of the dresser that I took for the purpose of telling Facebook it was up for grabs.

The previous owners of our house were using this room as a nursery. It was pastel purple with white trim, and during the showing had a white crib and changing table. I have to admit that even for a baby this room was tiny, being only twice the size of our bathroom, so I’m pretty sure this is why they moved out. Of course I have no use whatsoever for a nursery, so what’s a girl to do? Dressing room!

Before: I had started moving things out of the room, and in my moment of color-anxiety I took this so I could try out different shades in good old photoshop.

Before: I had started moving things out of the room, and in my moment of color-anxiety I took this so I could try out different shades in good old photoshop.

For the last year or so though, this room still looked like it belonged to a little kid, just one that had no need to sleep. I was still using the dresser my dad had bought me when I was 12, supplemented for storage by a ghetto, sagging bookshelf that belonged to my father in law in the 60s. It had one of those big old pencil sharpeners on it that you’d see in classrooms. I’d always wanted to upgrade my dresser to a glamorous vanity and couldn’t afford one, so when my mom and step dad were downsizing from their condo into a smaller house, I got crazy lucky in that I got to take the vanity and cabinet set that had been in my family for many years. I remember these things being in the spare bedroom of our house when I was 7 or 8, but of course back then I didn’t appreciate the beauty of them. To a kid who grew up in the 90s, everything wood, old, or even just brown is often assumed to be “70s” and not worth paying much attention to. Kids are stupid.

After. That is one hell of a transformation. These hat boxes are decorative that I bought from Homesense. I use them for lingerie, which is brilliant. The dresser itself is also jam packed with lingerie.

After. That is one hell of a transformation. These hat boxes are decorative that I bought from Homesense. I use them for lingerie, which is brilliant. The dresser itself is also jam packed with lingerie.

When my step dad and brother brought these over to my house unexpectedly one recent afternoon before their move, I was stunned. These were just TOO gorgeous, how did I get so lucky? Of course it makes sense to paint a room before you get the furniture in, so I decided that was what would be happening this weekend. FINALLY.

This bench that my mom gave me out of her foyer with bolster pillows is a necessary soft place to sit, because there's absolutely no room for a bed. The space just wouldn't be complete without it. I'm aware some spots in the painting were missed. I'll have to get to that later.

This bench that my mom gave me out of her foyer with bolster pillows is a necessary soft place to sit, because there’s absolutely no room for a bed. The space just wouldn’t be complete without it. I’m aware some spots in the painting were missed. I’ll have to get to that later.

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At first I was going to go with a bright classic teal, the kind you see in 50s style decor and graphics. I figured it was still kid-friendly enough that it would keep the room “sellable” when we decided to move again. At that last minute though, I changed my mind. I wanted to distance myself from that look as much as possible. So I took the shade much, much deeper.

This is the vanity, and pictures just don't do it justice. The grain of the wood, the detailed craftsmanship, this thing is stunning. Because it's so small, a regular chair is enormous, so I'm using a small fold out ottoman/seat that I got for Christmas. It was probably pretty cheap and the top comes off for even more storage, and after using this three different ways in my house already, I totally recommend them. I think I should get a couple more.

This is the vanity, and pictures just don’t do it justice. The grain of the wood, the detailed craftsmanship, this thing is stunning. Because it’s so small, a regular chair is enormous, so I’m using a small fold out ottoman/seat that I got for Christmas. It was probably pretty cheap and the top comes off for even more storage, and after using this three different ways in my house already, I totally recommend them. I think I should get a couple more.

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I love those colors that are in between two or three things so they seem to change with the light. That’s what this is. I would consider it more or less straight up blue, but in the golden glow of artificial light, it turns teal green. It looks like the sky moments before full darkness, and that reminded me of New Orleans. Suddenly I had a theme in mind. I’ve always loved decorating with Mardi Gras beads, even our Christmas tree looks more like something off a Mardi Gras parade float, so why not run with that?

This is the matching cabinet, and it screams art deco. It holds plenty of stuff, but I won't be putting anything very heavy in it. It's very light and feels a bit delicate so I'm going to be very careful.

This is the matching cabinet, and it screams art deco. It holds plenty of stuff, but I won’t be putting anything very heavy in it. It’s very light and feels a bit delicate so I’m going to be very careful.

It’s not finished yet, but the big stuff is done. I still need to get a non-modern area rug to cover the multiple stains on that nasty grey carpet. One day we’ll pull it up and bring it back to its former hardwood glory. I’m going to decorate the walls with wrought iron and jazz album covers. I plan on making a shelf above the vanity that looks like a mini New Orleans balcony complete with wrought iron railing, ferns, a Bourbon Street sign, and with a MAD curtain of beads hanging from hooks underneath. But so far this looks like an entirely different room, and I’m finally not disgusted by it.

And now for more pics!

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When you just don't have much space, go vertical. These wall shelves are great for keeping all my bottles of perfume, jewelry, and some other things out of the way, and are decorative too. Attaching shelves directly to the wall is also great for nightstands in small bedrooms (which we've also done) or console tables above the couch when you just can't squeeze in an end table.

When you just don’t have much space, go vertical. These wall shelves are great for keeping all my bottles of perfume, jewelry, and some other things out of the way, and are decorative too. Attaching shelves directly to the wall is also great for nightstands in small bedrooms (which we’ve also done) or as console tables above the couch when you just can’t squeeze in an end table.

Goth Rosary and Britney Spears perfume, a winning combination.

Goth Rosary and Britney Spears perfume, a winning combination.

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If you're the type that loves flower and feather hair clips, keep them on a ribbon. They're easier to access, look great, and it fits as many as you'll ever want.

If you’re the type that loves flower and feather hair clips, keep them on a ribbon. They’re easier to access, look great, and it fits as many as you’ll ever want.

Shot glasses can be a cool way to store small items like bobby pins and earrings.

Shot glasses can be a cool way to store small items like bobby pins and earrings.

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Well, I guess that’s it for now! What do you think?

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GlamChix Artistry

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I’ve known Kathy Cruz for years, and I have so much respect for her and what she does. She’s a talented photographer, an ambitious and hard worker, a super sweet person, and a great mother. How could I not want to share her with the world? So I asked her to share her story with me.

Kathy got her start in photography in 2008, when she took photos of projects at her engineering firm to be published in the company newsletter. This was the seed that would eventually grow and blossom into a whole new career, and she started learning photography formally by taking night classes at the PrairieView School of Photography here in Winnipeg.

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“I loved the classes because we would explore different places in the city, and find something and make it look like art, so I would focus on textures, lines, and patterns. Then we would print our work and have other photographers critique it. So it’s a lot of learning,” says Kathy. I’ve seen this influence first hand. Kathy is so much fun to work with, because she’s incredibly spontaneous and not afraid to get in there and experiment. I’ve spent hours aimlessly wandering the city with her and her camera, where she sees the art in everything we come across, from cathedrals to fire escapes and back alleys. We’ve even shot on my roof. It’s a very different approach than that of most of the photographers I’ve worked with, and it doesn’t feel like work at all. Kathy will get the shots some other photographers wouldn’t bother with – she captures opportunities, and with them the beauty of our city.

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When classes were over she started taking portraits of her own friends and family and investing in a full range of equipment, while primarily shooting in her home. In 2009 she registered her business as KatCruz Photography. She continued to learn about business, and KatCruz Photography evolved. One of the key ways in which this happened was the addition of a makeup artist.

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Kathy found Cherry Je through Facebook, and it turned out that the two had gone to the same high school. Cherry was the perfect fit for the job. The two started scoping out work through Model Mayhem, and it was at this point that Kathy found me. My Model Mayhem profile states that I don’t seek to be a prop in a photographer’s work, but rather to work fully with them as a team. I have experience working behind the scenes in directing, styling, editing, and more, most of which I learned hands on with the amazing photographer TJ Pendragon. This might be a turn-off for some, but it turned out to be just what Kathy was looking for. She never stops learning and evolving, and she wanted me to help guide her in how to work with a model. It was a perfect match. For our first shoot I gave her a few ideas on how to come up with a concept (we went with turning a favorite song into a photo through the use of mood), recruited another photographer and neighbor of mine for support and backup, and dove right in. I showed Kathy how props can be extremely helpful for a model unsure of how to pose, and encouraged her to get past her shyness and direct. Kathy says, “She made sure that the end result was what I wanted to see on the photo. It was hard, but after seeing her photos it made me realize that this is what I wanted to do.”

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After gaining more experience with Cherry by her side over the next three years, Kathy decided to venture into the realm of boudoir photography. Again I was chosen as the guinea pig, and I was honored to help out. Kathy and Cherry want to send the message across that every woman should feel good about her body no matter what size or shape she is. I’m not large by any means, but I definitely don’t look like a typical model either, and I feel like this struck a balance that would help their first project of this sort communicate this message while still keeping it somewhat straightforward. This was a positive experience for all of us. Kathy really enjoyed it and learned how to let the camera show some love for curves. I was surprised I could handle the job without feeling too self-conscious, but the photographer has as much to do with that as the model themselves. Kathy and Cherry made me feel extremely comfortable in what was by far the least amount of clothing I had ever worn in front of  the camera.

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This preliminary shoot worked out fantastically, and after this the pair started gaining some clients. “We love looking at their faces after they see their photos, and [when they] brag about it to their friends, and message us the experience that they felt during that photoshoot…all of that is priceless.”

This year, KatCruz Photography became GlamChix Artistry, offering both photoshoots and makeup services. Kathy finds that working with a partner is hugely beneficial, because you get to share your experiences and learn from each other. She also took a class in makeup artistry in case Cherry isn’t available, to ensure their clients will always get the full range of service that they offer. It’s clear that Kathy’s education and experience is incredibly well-rounded, and that she works hard to be the best she can be, so no matter what you’re looking for she’s got it covered.

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GlamChix artistry focuses on glamour, fashion, and boudoir photography with prices starting at $200. Makeup for weddings or other special events starts at 60$. When you consider all the years of hard work and talent involved, this is nothing to scoff at. These women care about their clients and want to make sure they’re giving them a fair deal.

“Like any business, it has its ups and downs. We’re still learning things as we go – what works and what doesn’t, and what makes us unique compared to others. We get people who would inquire about our services and feel that we charge too high, which is frustrating because little do they know the work that’s involved. It’s not just a click of the camera and putting it in a CD. It’s the value as well. From consultation to preparing for a photoshoot (artistic vision, wardrobe, makeup and hair, equipment used), hours of post processing, custom printing, to picking up and delivering the product. With all of that, we make sure we deliver custom images that you’ll be proud to display for years. And that’s what you pay for.”

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You can check out their blog full of useful pro makeup tips and more here at http://www.katcruzartistry.blogspot.ca/

Bookings can be done through Facebook or at (204) 688-8107.